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September 26, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac
1 Comment

#Money4Life: Good debt, bad debt

I come from a family that frowns on any form of debt. Growing up, my parents would tell me that it’s okay if we had less properties than our friends because at least we don’t owe anything that can be taken away from us.

The only loan they had then was for the house that we were living in which they completed paying off in fifteen years.

I saw debt from my parents’ perspective. My father, who is a lawyer, represented many companies in cases involving huge debts. Some of my dad’s clients were people we personally knew, with children I grew up with. And I saw some of these families lose their properties and their businesses to bad debts, so the thought of getting into one terrified me until adulthood.

bad-debts

Pregnant, homeless, and in debt

In 2010, when I was 8 months pregnant with my third child and we couldn’t pay a Php 34,000 debt consisting of rent and bills, and personal loans that piled up,  I was beside myself with stress.  It was only Php 34,000 – very small when you think about it, but there I was, losing sleep, trying to figure out a way out of it.

To top it off, we were asked to move out of place we’ve called home for 7 years and we’ve exhausted all possible financial sources (translation: friends we could borrow from) we had at that time.

I remember calling my dad, sobbing and hugely embarrassed, admitting to him for the first time that we needed help.

It wasn’t just the Php 34, 000. For years, we struggled to make ends meet. The eviction became a turning point in our life. I don’t recall ever been as responsible with our money as much as I had been the year after that.

(Read: Choosing Insurance Policies at 40)

Not all debts are bad debts

The word “debt” is generally construed negatively in our society. Many Filipinos are still ill-educated in the area of finances and it’s unfortunate many of us still can’t identify between a good debt and a bad one.

So what am I saying here? I’m saying that not all debts are bad. At least, that’s what Aya Laraya said at the last session of Money 4 Life workshop that I attended.

According to Aya, there are good debts and bad debts, and it takes the right knowledge,  mindset and skills to leverage a good debt.

3 Debts to avoid

What are bad debts? Basically, these are money you loan to purchase things that usually have no long term benefit to you. Some examples of bad debts are:

1. Consumer goods

Examples of this type of debt are credit card debts procured through the buy now-pay two months later scheme, home credits, and the likes.

Some people apply for SSS loans to purchase electronic devices they do not really need.

Aya Laraya reiterates that using credit cards has its benefits such as being able to keep track of your expenses better. He shares that he had arranged a credit limit on his credit card based on the amount he can afford to spend for the month and does not go beyond that budget.

2. Emergency loans

Emergencies are inevitable which is why ideally, an emergency fund is established beforehand, instead of resorting to unplanned loans later on.

The problem with this is that a vast number of Filipinos have overlooked its importance which is why many find themselves buried neck-deep in debts due to medical and other personal emergencies.

3. Bad business debts

Examples of bad business debts are applying for a car loan with plans of renting it out via third-party companies to cover the monthly payment; or a housing loan to purchase a condominium unit with the intention of renting it out to cover the monthly amortization.

This is bad business because cars and houses depreciate in value and they come with expenses such as taxes and repairs. You’ll be spending more of the profit you were hoping to get in the long run.

What is a good debt?

A good debt is basically money you loan to invest on something that generates income or something of a long term value. So with that definition, Aya Laraya ticks off profitable business ventures and a house you intend to live in for a long time as examples of good debt.

(READ: Should we buy a house now?)

Another is listing your business in the stocks market, wherein you sell bonds to investors and you use their money to grow your business. Aya Laraya cites the Ayalas and Henry Sy as good examples of successful use of investors’ money.

captain-hat

Speaking of the Ayalas and the Sys, we were informed that one of the newer products of Sun Life, the Captains Fund, is now a regular product. The Captains Fund lets you put your money on the companies of the most bankable and formidable industry names such as the two business tycoons above.

The Captains Fund is an option available to VUL (Variable Life Insurance) investors. It’s a product we’re currently discussing with our FA since we learned that Sun Life took it out of their for a limited time only line.

(READ: How we chose our financial advisor)

Going back to debts, a loan, no matter the purpose, needs careful study of facts and careful planning.

You need to ask yourself: Why are you borrowing money? Is it necessary? Have you looked into other options?

And most importantly, how will you pay?

It’s only wise to know what you’re getting into and what is required of you before you jump into anything, after all, most bad debts happen because we didn’t understand what we were doing in the first place.

This is one of those things where what they say about the more you know, the more prepared you can be applies.

The road to financial freedom often means taking out the blockades that stop you from reaching your goals. In this case – debts.

From our experience, the first step to get out of bad debt is to humble yourself, take responsibility for your mistakes and admit you need help. Then accept help and instructions from those who know better.

The roads will clear from there.

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house” Proverbs 24:7.

September 19, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac
13 Comments

Book Review: All About the Philippines

We had the opportunity to review one of Tuttle Publishing’s books recently. The title of the book is “All About the Philippines: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and Games for Kids,”  authored by Gidget Roceles Jimenez and beautifully illustrated in watercolor by Corazon Dandan-Albano.

It is the best supplementary book in Filipino history and culture for kids that we’ve used so far and let me tell you why.

all-about-philippines

First of all, it celebrates the richness and diversity of our history, heritage and culture as a people in the most honest and colorful way. And the simplicity of the text and it being served in small chunks makes for an easy and interesting read for kids.

I actually paused our Civics books and decided to discuss this book first with my kids. I figured it would be easier for them to digest their textbooks if they would get more familiar with who we are as a people first through this material.

Filipinos represent!

There were 22 topics in the book. It started with an introduction of three kids from the three major island groups of the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao.

From the beginning of the book, our diversity is already defined.

Mary Ong, who represented children of Luzon, was of Chinese descent. She has chinky eyes and speaks Tagalog, Luzon’s most prominent dialect.

According to the text, Jaime Lopez has Spanish ancestors. He has brown hair and speaks Visayan.

And Ari Abaza is from a Muslim family who lives in Zamboanga. He has Arab blood in him, he sports curly black hair and speaks Chavacano, a Spanish-based dialect.

The book says that the three kids are related and yet they are so different. I have to say that it’s the best representation of the Filipino people.

The numerous dialects we use and our ancestry were also discussed in other sections in the book.

filipino-diversity-kids

(READ: The Tricky Business of Teaching Tagalog)

The Why’s

Many of today’s school text books are outdated. I like how All About the Philippines explains where the lush greens and forests they talk about in our text books had gone and what happened.

It also subtly raises awareness on the effects of progress and somehow offers a platform for discussion with the children on it. I see it as an opportunity to talk to my kids about eco-friendly and biodegradable products, recycling and other actions that will encourage them to be mindful of how they treat their surroundings and how their decisions can affect their world as a whole.

I’ve been wanting to create eco-friendly projects with them, so maybe this is my chance.

Sights, Celebrations and Beliefs

My kids are now asking me to see the Chocolate Hills of Bohol and the underground river in Palawan. What once was just an interest to see their favorite characters in theme parks abroad has developed into an interest to travel and see what our country has to offer.

I honestly think that the book is helping my English-speaking kids connect to their roots and in effect, encourages them to be persistent in learning our national language – Filipino.

It also got them interested in Visayas and Mindanao, now that they realize that there’s life outside Manila, haha!

On my part, I am all the more determined to take the kids to see the different places in our country and see our culture beyond the books we read,– from playing sungka with them or pushing Jay to teach them sipa, to seeing the parades in our Fiestas, even if it means joining a backpacking group that will welcome kids to come along (still trying to convince Jay on that last part).

The book also touches on the different belief systems and many other things that will help our children appreciate and understand how Filipinos are.

all-about-philippines2
My only critique, if there is any, is that there was only one song in the book but music was discussed, so I think changing “songs” to “music” in the title is more appropriate. Otherwise, I have to say I love this book!

Maybe it’s because a fellow Filipino wrote it. Who can better explain our culture but our own, right? And you get a sense of pride and nationalism, it’s contagious.

Personally, I think that it’s worth getting for all Filipino kids – homeschooling or not.

The book is printed in high quality materials. The covers are hardbound and the pages are thick and glossy.

Here’s a video to give you a peek of the pages of All About the Philippines:

All About the Philippines: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and Games for Kids by Tuttle Publishing is available at National Bookstore and Power Books, or you can order directly from their website.

September 18, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac
9 Comments

Miracle Art: Interactive 3D Art for Visual Thinking Development

I was very happy to find out that a 3D interactive Art museum opened in Market Market in BGC. The name of the place is Miracle Art Happyworld Museum.

I’ve seen so many blogs about another 3D art museum in Cubao but it may take us sometime before we can visit it. Market Market is just a couple of blocks away from our apartment so it’s more accessible.

miracle-art
We were supposed to take the kids to see Intramuros but we ran late and it was raining hard, so we thought we’d just find another place to take the kids for a little educational activity and some fun. That was when we remembered Miracle Art.

The entrance fee was only Php 80. Php 400 for the five of us isn’t so bad.

gollum-miracle-art

Miracle Art in Market Market is small, only about 3 or 4 rooms of big art works on its walls. Some of characters we know from the movies and others are pictures of natural disasters and animals. Others are artistic sets with humor written all over them.

paint-miracle-art

polar-bear-art

shark-art-kids

It was a bit hard to get our 5-year old to pose but he eventually got the idea when he saw his older brothers try to blend into the pictures.

judah-miracle-art

headless-art

There weren’t too many people that day which was good because our kids were running around the place like there’s no tomorrow!

The Value of 3D Interactive Art

We’re currently using The Child’s Book of Art, a book of paintings compiled by Lucy Micklethwait, as one of the lessons we take up with our Kindergartner. We’ve used it for our two older kids, as well.

In the book, it says that making children look at and study the paintings in the book can provide opportunities for discussion, which in turn can help develop the child’s vocabulary and general knowledge.

book-art-kids

Sounds good, right?

But as I googled further about the benefits of art appreciation, I came across the method, Visual Thinking, wherein I learned that art appreciation can also be a tool to aid a child’s prowess in Math and Reading, and to help along his social and emotional development.

Storytelling hour with Mr. Elephant. #MiracleArt #InteractiveArt #Art #kids #family

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

When we expose children to art and provide them opportunities to observe it, inspect it, think about it, talk about it, and even interact with it, we’re helping them understand the images. It broadens their minds and teaches them to see things in other people’s perspective. Then we can guide them on how to respond accordingly.

It also encourages children to get in touch with how they feel about the pictures they see and put their emotions into words when we talk about them. 

The tornadoes fighting off the Monstrous Octopus at #MiracleArt #familyday #holiday

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

At Miracle Art, the kids had to figure out the pictures so they would know how to pose to blend in. More learning happens when we get home and we look at the pictures we’ve taken.

Because we were “in” the pictures, the kids looked at them longer. They saw new things they didn’t notice while we were at the museum and these jumpstarted more discussions.

Stealing oranges at Miracle Art. :) #familyday #InteractiveArt #Art

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

I think that it’s also a great way to break kids into art. It’s one thing to teach them how to draw or paint and do all these creative stuff, and another to teach them to see other people’s work and appreciate them.

And if you notice, not all kids take to art as much as others. Some need a bit of a nudge to get them into it. Bringing them to a place like Miracle Art is a fun way to introduce art and art appreciation to them.

Miracle Art Happy World Museum has branches in Circuit Lane in Makati, Market Market in Taguig, Harbor Point in Subic, Starmall in Bulacan, and The District in Imus Cavite. They also have one in Cebu.

To know more, visit Miracle Art Happyworld Museum on Facebook.

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